chapter  4
25 Pages

THE NEOLITHIC PERIOD, C. 4000–2400 CAL BC: A changing world

WithALASDAIR WHITTLE

In the fortieth or thirty-ninth century cal bc, in the Cotswolds at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, people butchered domesticated animals, used carinated bowl pottery and int tools, lit res, dug small pits and made two small timber structures. The material from this occupation was partly scattered about, and partly concentrated in a smaller area, some 14 by 11 m, in what can be called a midden. The area also contained sporadic microliths from Late Mesolithic occupation on the same spot, above the valley of the Evenlode, tributary of the upper Thames, and there were also more abundant traces of earlier Mesolithic use of the place. In the thirty-eighth century cal bc, a trapezoidal long barrow was constructed over these earlier traces, built up of earth, turf and stones, arranged in compartments or bays. Let in from the long sides of the barrow, which were nely revetted in stone, there were two opposed sets of small stone chambers or cists, which contained the remains of some 21 people: male and female, old and young, some deposited as whole bodies, others perhaps partially disarticulated. The barrow was in use for probably three to ve generations, ending with nal depositions and the closing of the short passage to the cists on the north side probably in the 3640s or 3630s cal bc (Figures 4.1 and 4.2) (Benson and Whittle 2007; Bayliss, Benson et al. in Bayliss and Whittle 2007).